Bloodshed of Muslims in Burma
By Sajjad Shaukat
With the official backing of the government, during the anti-Muslim riots, intermittent massacre of Muslims by Hindus has become a permanent feature of India. In the last few years, more than 3,000 unnamed graves of the innocent Muslims, found in mutilated forms were discovered in the various areas of the Indian occupied Kashmir. Notably, human rights groups have
disclosed that the unmarked graves included those Muslims, killed by the Indian security forces in the fake encounters. Similarly the genocide of several innocent Muslim women and children by the Serb forces in Bosnia, Herzegovina and Kosovo presents another example.
While, these atrocities are still fresh in the minds of every Muslim; recently bloodshed of the Rohingya Muslim community at the hands of the Rakhine extremist Buddhists in Burma (present Myanmar) has broken all the record of religious cleansing.
In the recent months, thousands of Burmese Muslims have been butchered, while brutal methods of torturing, killing, inflicting physical and causing mental harm on them were employed by the Buddhists who are in majority in the country. Instead of resolving the problem by protecting the minority Muslims, the Burmese military regime, covertly supported the Buddhist rioters, which created greater hardships for the Muslims.
Eye witnesses disclosed that Buddhist extremists torched several mosques, shops and houses of Muslims, while police and security forces of Myanmar remain silent. Even Burmese military and police have been found involved in massacre, targeted killings, disappearances and rape of Muslim women.
According to reports, 650 of nearly one million Rohingya Muslims have been murdered as of June 28, this year, while 1,200 others are missing and 90,000 more have been displaced.
In 1992, 250,000 Rohingyas fled to neighbouring Bangladesh to escape the persecution. More than 20,000 of them are still in the same refugee camps and around 100,000 more are living in the Gulf States, Pakistan, Malaysia and Thailand. Due to fear of extreme repression, Rohingya Muslims left the northern Arakan region, especially Buthidaung and Maungdaw.
Historically, Rohingya Muslims arrived in Myanmar in early seventh century, but Myanmar military regime maintains that their immigrants came from India during British colonial rule. However, in the seventies, the military junta embarked on a systematic program of religious cleansing of the Burmese Muslims who are denied their basic rights, i.e. the right to freedom of movement, marriage, faith, identity, ownership, language, culture, citizenship, education etc. They have also been barred from government employment. Deplorable as it is, the Muslims in Myanmar are among the most persecuted minorities in the world, according to UN. Although permanently settled in Western Myanmar and making 1/3rd of total population of Burma, they are not recognised as the legal minority.
In March 11, 2006, about the Rohingya Muslims of western Burma’s Arakan Statem BBC reported, “They have been called one of the world’s most persecuted people….in addition to their almost total lack of legal rights, many have been regularly beaten by police, forced to do slave labour and jailed for little or no reason.”
Unfortunately, the Myanmar opposition leader and the Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi only fulfilled formality on July 25 by calling to protect the rights of the strife-torn nation’s myriad ethnic minorities. But she did not ask US or Security Council to take practical measures against the military rulers. It seems that she has forgotten her own words when she had remarked, “The struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma is a struggle for life and dignity.”
Although the US and some western countries which claim to be the champion of human rights in the world, have issued some verbal statements regarding humanitarian tragedy in Myanmar, yet no practical action has been taken against the brutal military rulers of the country. Even UN has been fulfilling formality over the slaughter of Muslims. Question arises as to why UN Security Council is silent over this humanitarian catastrophe? However, these powerful entities have remained much active in case of Libya, Syria and elsewhere in the world.
In fact, particularly, US double standard is part of its strategic game in Burma. America has also included India in this game. In the recent past, Obama administration lifted restrictions on the US investment in Myanmar. American companies are now free to get partnership with the state-owned energy corporations—the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE). India has also been availing the opportunity of economic benefits in the country. Now, Burma is undergoing an arranged political change, designed to legitimise its regime, and enlist US-led India and some western partners to evade the influence of China.
Notably, in June 9, 2005 governments of Bangladesh and China were urged by their business leaders to establish a road link between two countries through Burma on a priority basis to boost trade and investment.
Nevertheless, for achieving their political and financial goals, US and India have given a free hand to their secret agencies CIA and RAW to support the military regime’s repression of its people and particularly of Muslims as also part of the ongoing anti-Muslim campaign, noted in some other Islamic countries.
As regards the recent genocide of Muslims, Burma’s Hindu organisations which are in collusion with Buddhists have been propagating that the latter are the most peaceful citizens, and called Muslims as trouble makers and terrorists. Buddhists not only enjoy the tacit assistance of politico-military regime including CIA and RAW, but are also being encouraged by Hindu religious extremists to wipe out the Muslims from Myanmar. Nonetheless, it is the right hour that human rights organisations, OIC, Security Council and international media must play their active role so as to prevent wretched treatment meted out to Muslim minority, and to stop their bloodshed in Burma.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations